Chapter 241 Guilty, Returning To The Capital Without Approval
The news of Long Heng's return spread throughout the capital within moments. Many congregated around the palace to see this hero of theirs because he'd crushed the enemy and flattened almost every single enemy camp. This was precisely what Long Heng wanted. In the past, he never really cared about other people's opinions of him since he was only focused on his responsibilities as a military man. But he now had to do his share of scheming in order to protect his family.
"That's odd. Why is Prince Li here when he has almost conquered the enemy nation?"
"Are you blind? Didn't you see the amount of gold tokens in front of him? It's obvious that the emperor has summoned him back for an emergency."
"But why did the emperor summon him back? Have they decided to stop the war? We're so close to conquering the enemy nation and claiming their land."
"Who knows? The emperor made a very strange decision indeed."
"Yes, that is true."
Long Heng led the troops on horseback with a gentle smile on his face. The emperor didn't want Long Heng to conquer the enemy nation as he was afraid that Long Heng might suddenly take over the border and proclaim himself as an emperor of that land. With plenty of good generals and large number of soldiers, it wouldn't be difficult for him to march back and snatch the emperor's seat from the current emperor. It was impossible for those women to be able to manipulate him into summoning Long Heng back if he hadn't been considering those things.
Morning court would've normally ended by this hour, but the emperor was still meeting with his officials in court. The ministers were all surprised when they saw Long Heng appear. Minister Lin was one who looked the most surprised among the ministers. Like a girl, he covered his mouth with his hand and pretended he was trying to protect the emperor. "How insolent! Long Heng! Why did you return to the capital when you should be on the battlefield!"
Without any signs of panic, Long Heng immediately bowed to the emperor, "This loyal subject has returned as ordered by His Majesty."
"Oh? When did I order your return?" The emperor was a man in the prime of his life in his thirties. He'd inherited the royal family's good looks, making him giving him the dignified air of a ruler even without anger.
Long Heng replied respectfully. "After receiving fifteen gold tokens in a row, this loyal subject rushed back to the capital without any delay as I was afraid that I might disrupt Your Majesty's responsibilities."
"How can this be?! I have never issued any gold tokens to anybody." The emperor responded with a faint smile. He'd ordered the emissaries to secretly destroy the gold tokens so Long Heng wouldn't be able keep any of them. However, he'd just received news that Long Heng had brought some gold tokens with him. Did he murder every single one of the emissaries? There wasn't any gold tokens on him when he arrived in the city. Long Heng you bastard! You're unexpectedly good at getting out of these kinds of situations.
I can't believe he managed to escape from even this plot, despite my intricate planning. I've underestimated him. This man will surely become my downfall sooner or later. A cold glint immediately formed on the emperor's face with such thoughts, but there wasn't a hint of anger to be seen. This much was due to the dignity of his identity as the emperor.
"But this loyal subject has definitely received the gold tokens and royal decree. Does Your Majesty wish to see them?"
"Oh? Of course." He actually managed to get his hands on the royal decree as well? Didn't I tell them repeatedly to destroy that as well? These people are too unreliable. Fortunately, this problem can easily be solved by denying everything and pin everything on a scapegoat.
However, who should be the scapegoat that I pin this on? Long Heng's subordinate presented fifteen gold tokens and the royal decree while the emperor was caught up in his own thoughts. The emperor immediately surged to his feet and slammed the table in a fit of anger. "I can't believe someone would dare impersonate me and send out a decree in my name! Men! Investigate this! You must definitely get to the bottom of this!"
"Someone impersonated Your Highness and sent out a fake decree? This subject has mistaken your royal intent and delayed an important military opportunity! Your Majesty, please descend heavy punishment on me." Long Heng played along and acted all surprised. My acting prowess has significantly improved lately! But why is that?
"How can I blame this on my loyal subject? You may rise. How is the situation there? Will everything be fine there while you are here because of this trickery?"
"No worries Your Majesty. This subject has already ordered the army to retreat to Tranquil City. They will immediately return to the capital city and be placed under Your Majesty's charge if they don't receive any orders from me within the month." A large army was pressuring the border. This was clearly a threat. These were all soldiers who had spent significant time with Long Heng. They would surely be on Long Heng's side if anything happened to him. It'd be dangerous if they were to return to the capital.
Long Heng you bastard, you actually left a contingency plan as well! The emperor was relieved that he hadn't ordered for Long Heng's assassination. Long Heng's army would never forgive the emperor if Long Heng was murdered and would come demand an explanation. The emperor had no idea what the soldiers would do if Long Heng's crime looked even a little suspicious.
While it wouldn't be too difficult to suppress Long Heng's army, the emperor was sure that other ministers would have a lot to say about this. The emperor was truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. He'd offend many people if he chose to get rid of Long Heng. Trouble might brew from the imperial court all the way to the jianghu. But if he didn't get rid of Long Heng, his popularity with the populace might soon overcome royal authority. It wouldn't be hard for Long Heng to wear the emperor's garb if he wanted to then. Long Heng was truly becoming a thorn in his side. He's already so powerful even though he's so young and hasn't borrowed any power from an advantageous marriage yet. He will surely be a threat to my power and my throne if I don't deal with him soon!
"I'm sure you are tired from the long journey. There's no need for you to be rush back into battle now that you've returned. You should get ample rest before deciding if you should go back to the battlefield again. The enemy nation is now weak and powerless. We can consider having them pay tribute so we can lessen the tax paid by our citizens. What is your opinion of that?"
"Your Majesty should be the final decision in these matters."
"That is true. Now that you've returned, why don't we plan for your marriage as well? The old madame has been incredibly worried about your wedding arrangements."
"Your Highness, may this subject add something to your conversation?" Minister Lin suddenly requested to speak with his fists cupped. Nobody had any idea what he was up to.
Long Heng laughed derisively on the inside. These two probably have something up their sleeves! Are they on the same side now? I want to see for myself what plans they have for my marriage.
"You may speak, Minister Lin," The emperor quickly replied.
"This subject has a niece as beautiful as a fairy. Moreover, she's sixteen, the perfect age for marriage. This subject has taken her into my family and educated her well. I've treated her like my own daughter. Since Prince Li is working so hard for the sake of the citizens, the old madame should have someone to help her with the matters of the house as well. Your Majesty, would you give consent for this marriage? They're surely a pair made for each other."
"Very good! Very good..." The emperor clapped as he laughed heartily. "Long Heng, what is your opinion of this?"
"I thank Your Majesty and Minister Lin for worrying about my marriage. However, I just worry that I'm not worthy of the Lin family's exceptional daughters." Long Heng accentuated the word exceptional, which made some of the crowd burst into laughter. There wasn't anyone in the world that hasn't heard of the tale of how loose and easy the Lin family daughter was. From the wulin to the enemy's prince, the Lin daughter had had relations with them all. No one said anything when the emperor had picked up this used good as a concubine. After all, she was just a concubine.
However, having such a woman as the main wife would cause a lot of grief and sleepless nights for the man who married her. Minister Lin seemed to have quite a number of daughters. But if his biological daughter was already so uneducated, who could guarantee that his niece wasn't worse?
Did you catch Song Jiaoyue's theme song in yesterday's announcement post? XD